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Johnny Manziel moves closer toward playing in CFL

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Johnny Manziel's return to professional football is close to getting a green light from north of the border.

Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced Thursday the league is prepared to approve a contract for Manziel to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats if he continues to meet certain conditions tied to his eligibility. The Tiger-Cats own Manziel's CFL rights.

"[The eligibility process] has included an ongoing assessment by an independent expert on the issue of violence against women, a review by legal counsel, and an in-person interview of Mr. Manziel conducted by the commissioner," Ambrosie wrote in a statement released by the CFL. "As well, Mr. Manziel has been required to meet a number of conditions set by the league.

"As a result of this process, the Commissioner has now informed Mr. Manziel and the Tiger-Cats he is prepared to approve a contract for Mr. Manziel should one be negotiated.

"The process that led to this decision does, however, continue. Mr. Manziel has been informed he must continue to meet a number of conditions in order to remain eligible. These conditions, while extensive and exacting, remain confidential."

Manziel, 25, hasn't played professional football since his release from the Cleveland Browns after the 2015 season. The former Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted 22nd overall by the Browns in 2014 following a standout career at Texas A&M, was cut by the Browns while under investigation for domestic assault against his former girlfriend. He later reached a deal with prosecutors for conditional dismissal of the charge.

In addition, the NFL issued a four-game suspension on Manziel in June 2016 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Manziel lost six of the eight games he started for the Browns, completing 57 percent of his passes. Despite this, it appears the Tiger-Cats are working toward making Manziel's football comeback a reality.

"We appreciate the CFL office and Commissioner Randy Ambrosie's due diligence in this matter," the Tiger-Cats said in a statement. "We also recognize Johnny Manziel for thus far demonstrating the attributes necessary to continue his career in our great league. We will have no further comment at this time."

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